Update, July 21: A fundraiser has been set up to help with funeral costs for Alan Roberds. He was 47 years old.
Original story, July 20: A veteran Berkeley police officer died last weekend and the death appears to have been a suicide, according to an internal department memo shared with Berkeleyside.
Officer Alan Roberds, badge #53, worked for the city of Berkeley for more than 15 years. “He was a great guy to work with, a family man and solid street cop,” said one former Berkeley police officer who worked with Roberds. Several officers have asked Berkeleyside in recent days to share the news of his death with the community.
A memo from Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood about Roberds’ death was shared with the department Saturday afternoon following individual telephone calls to each officer. Greenwood also sent his email to the city manager, who later shared it with city staff and officials.
Greenwood wrote Saturday that “Alan’s body was discovered in his vehicle this morning in a parking lot in El Sobrante. The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office notified BPD, and BPD personnel responded to the scene. Preliminary information strongly indicates Alan took his own life. CoCo County Detectives are investigating this incident, and there is no further information to share at this time.”
The Contra Costa County sheriff’s office has not responded to multiple requests for information.
Officers who spoke to Berkeleyside could not recall another BPD death under similar circumstances.
The Berkeley Police Department brought in a mental health counselor, and also offered peer support services to staff from BPD and the California Highway Patrol over the weekend.
Monday, the department scheduled two “Critical Incident Stress Debriefs” to help provide support to “those at BPD who worked closely with Alan.”
The department also authorized the wearing of black mourning bands “as a way to honor Alan for his many years of service at BPD, and a way to honor and support his family — especially his wife and their two children — and friends.”
In her email to city staff, City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley described Saturday as “A very sad day indeed for all.”
Greenwood wrote in his message: “Just as loss and grief are an inextricable part of our lives, so too are the daily acts of kindness and support we can extend to one-another, on good days and bad. Be vigilant for your own well-being, and for the well-being of those around you.”
Roberds’ funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.
Greenwood has not been available for additional comment this week about the death. But he choked back tears Monday night while making remarks, during a community forum, about the importance of physical and psychological wellbeing, and emotional resiliency, for officers.
“Our officers can take on trauma from the work they do,” Greenwood said. “Giving the officers the resources to be able to recover and keep operating through that is a priority.”
Find support and information about police mental health at Badge of Life.